Articles & Tips

Direct Mail That Sells
Designing Direct Mail that Sells

If it sells, it is creative.

This, in essence, is the first rule of direct mail design, according to legendary designer and author, David Ogilvy. But what sells? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your next direct mail marketing piece:

The basics are in your mailbox.

When you need inspiration, just go to your own personal direct mail idea vault… your mailbox! You probably receive tons of good direct mail each year. Set aside packages that catch your eye. The companies mailing these have spent thousands of dollars researching the best methods. Why not learn from their research?

Always try to beat your previous response rate.

Play around with the design before sending the mailing out again. See if minor changes make a significant difference in the response rate. Send out different versions of your design to similar groups in your database, and test to see which one results in the most responses. Whatever you do, test it, and then test it again!

Use words that grab the reader’s attention.

Here is a recent list of “Words that Grab Attention,” produced by Starch INRA Hooper Research Worldwide:
Announcing / Discover / Easy / Exclusive / Free / Guarantee / Health / Help / Immediately / Introducing / Know / Learn / Love / Money / New / Now / Powerful / Profits / Protect / Proven / Results / Safe / Save / Secret(s) / Today / Trust / Understand / You
As you design the mailer, remember… have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

I work with you to facilitate the completion of each job. Whether it is Print, QR Codes, Test-Based Marketing or Promotional Items. To learn more, please read this page.

What does a Marketing Services Provider do?

I work between you and the printer to facilitate understanding and the smooth completion of each job. I help simplify the printing process by reviewing your job and making recommendations on printing methods and paper as well as checking to make sure it meets postal requirements if the project is to mailed. In addition, I prepare a detailed specification sheet and seek 3 to 4 bids then make recommendations to my customers. I view the art, place the order with the printer, follow-up with a proof for the customer’s approval. When needed, I go to press checks. When the job is finished, I make sure the product is delivered on time, then invoice the customer, and pay the suppliers.

Tell me the truth; does a Marketing Services Provider add cost to my print jobs?

No, not with me. I do add a mark-up to the printers bid but since the printers give me a discounted price, roughly equivalent to their commissions for salespeople, the bottom line price is about the same. The real advantage I offer is in placing your printing jobs where they fit best. That saves you money.

If it does not add, cost how do you get paid?

I get paid by discounts given to me by the printers. I perform many of the same functions of their sales team but without the burden of their employee expenses.

How do I know that I am getting a true discount?

Printers rarely get feedback on how their bids fared. I provide them, each time they submit a bid, with the price of the low bidder. If they consistently come out high, I know they aren’t giving the discount. I only work with printers that understand my value and don’t try and take advantage.

Does my ad agency take care of the printing?

Sure, ad agencies sell people on the idea that they will manage and supervise your printing, but be aware that there are costs associated with this service, sometimes very high costs. 40% to 50% markups are not unusual. Also, print buying and production in most agencies, is an entry level position. Do you want the best or is a green wet-behind-the-ears newbie okay with you? You choose.

Can our printer provide all the resources to do your job?

Consider the source. I’m not implying that your printer would mislead you, but if you think about it logically no printer in the world could possibly house all the equipment necessary to produce every job as efficiently as possible. To do that would take a facility as large as the city of Los Angeles. My job is to identify which printers have the right equipment to do your job and save you the trouble of figuring it out on your own.

Could I do what you do, or hire someone in-house to do it?

Of course, you could do that. Anyone could do what I do if they had thirty-five years of experience, had worked as a pressman, sold printing for both heat-set web and sheet-fed companies, done job estimating, and press scheduling. They could do it if they had advertising agency experience and worked in publishing. They could do it if they worked full-time in the business and were in and around printers all day every day. It takes a long time to learn what can go wrong, and discover ways to avoid expensive errors. With me, you don’t have the learning curve. I’ve been there, done that.

Is printing all you handle?

No, mailing services are a big part of what I offer. I was taught by some of the best minds in direct marketing and bring a wealth of experience to the table. Also, I’ve helped customers with QR Code generation and strategy, text based marketing and offer promotional items badged with your branding. If you need anything just ask.